AKRON, OHIO — HPM Corp. and Maac Machinery Corp. are joining forces to sell complete systems to extrude and thermoform heavy-gauge sheet.
HPM, which makes sheet extruders, and Maac, a thermoforming machinery maker, will design, build and install turnkey systems to make products such as automobile door panels, truck bed liners, spas and luggage. Exxon Chemical Americas is the materials partner, through its North American Polyethylene Division.
A key advantage for a complete system from one source — with prices ranging from $1.5 million to $2.5 million and higher — is quicker startup times. The machinery makers, not the processor, will coordinate engineering for the design and installation.
Officials of both companies say the global alliance is the thermoforming industry's first comprehensive, formal partnership between builders of extrusion and thermoforming machinery.
``It's more than just throwing two quotations together,'' said Dennis Paradise, extrusion product sales manager at HPM, in a Sept. 1 interview at Plastics News' Akron office.
Paul Alongi, Maac's chief executive officer, said that incorrectly extruded sheet or resin with inconsistent quality can hurt the productivity of his thermoforming machines.
``Our process relies on the two major processes before it, resin and extrusion,'' Alongi said. Maac is based in Itasca, Ill.
Ferdinand Pranckh, HPM's vice president of extrusion systems, said the extruder can have a major impact on part quality, especially orientation of the polymers and variation in thickness.
One way thermoformers can control quality is to extrude in-house, instead of buying commodity sheet on the open market, Pranckh said.
``But most people are afraid to extrude sheet,'' he said. The alliance hopes to soothe those fears by involving their engineers in the early stages of planning turnkey lines at customer plants.
Pranckh said business trends are pushing machinery makers to offer more complete engineering. At plastics processors, ``everybody is stripping cash out of their operations,'' he said. Manufacturers want to focus engineering their end products, not on machinery to make those products.
Thermoforming also has plenty of new players and those companies value ``one-stop shopping.''
This is not Mount Gilead, Ohio-based HPM's first partnership with a machinery maker. In 1997, HPM and Cincinnati Milacron Inc. announced the Alliance System of thin-gauge sheet extrusion systems to make packaging.
That agreement is not related to the Maac-HPM effort, which is limited to Maac's market of heavy-gauge cut sheet thermoformers.
Many years ago, HPM made its own line of thin-gauge thermoformers to manufacture packaging.